ROCKLAND, Mass., Dec. 7, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- EMD Serono, the biopharmaceutical business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany in the US and Canada, today announced the appointment of John Walsh, M.D. as Vice President, Neurology & Immunology (N&I), US Medical Affairs. In this role, Dr. Walsh will direct and manage the N&I Medical Affairs team to develop and implement plans for Rebif® (interferon beta-1a) and our products in development, both in the US and in collaboration with Global Medical Affairs.
"We are proud to welcome Dr. John Walsh to EMD Serono. The breadth of John's experience – from his years as a family medicine physician to his expertise with multiple sclerosis therapies – will be a tremendous asset to our team," said Zhen Su, Chief Medical Officer, EMD Serono. "John's medical knowledge and deep understanding of the unique needs of patients with conditions such as MS will be invaluable as we continue to advance treatment outcomes for patients with high unmet medical needs."
Prior to joining EMD Serono, Dr. Walsh served as Senior Director, US Medical, Neurology Medical Director Lead, at Biogen. While in that role, he managed a team across several disease areas, including multiple sclerosis (MS), Alzheimer's and neurodegeneration, among others.
Dr. Walsh is a Board-Certified physician with more than 19 years of experience providing medical care to patients. He also serves as a National Disaster Medical Assistance Team Medical Officer for the US Department of Health & Human Services, a position he has held for more than seven years.
Dr. Walsh holds an undergraduate degree in Science from St. Joseph's College in Patchogue, NY and received his Medical Doctorate from St. George's University School of Medicine. He completed his residency and chief residency at North Shore-LIJ / Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, NY.
EMD Serono's N&I franchise features Rebif, an established treatment option for relapsing MS; Cladribine Tablets, an investigational treatment for MS; and several pipeline products.
Rebif has a well-established efficacy and safety profile with more than 20 years of accrued clinical trial and patient experience. Since its approval in 2002, more than 140,000 people have chosen Rebif to treat their relapsing MS. In addition to providing this important treatment option, EMD Serono offers comprehensive support to patients through MS LifeLines. For more than 15 years, this award-winning patient support service has provided education and support for people living with relapsing MS.
About Rebif® (interferon beta-1a)
Rebif (interferon beta-1a) is used to treat relapsing forms of MS to decrease the frequency of relapses and delay the occurrence of some of the physical disability that is common in people with MS. The efficacy and safety of Rebif in controlled clinical trials beyond 2-years has not been established.
Important Safety Information:
Rebif is contraindicated in patients with a history of hypersensitivity to natural or recombinant interferon beta, human albumin, or any other component of the formulation.
Rebif should be used with caution in patients with depression, a condition that is common in people with multiple sclerosis. Depression, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts have been reported to occur with increased frequency in patients receiving interferon compounds, including Rebif.
Severe liver injury, including some cases of hepatic failure requiring liver transplantation, has been reported rarely in patients taking Rebif. The potential for liver injury should be considered when used in combination with other products associated with liver injury. Monitor liver function tests and patients for signs and symptoms of hepatic injury. Consider discontinuing Rebif if hepatic injury occurs.
Anaphylaxis and other allergic reactions (some severe) have been reported as a rare complication of Rebif. Discontinue Rebif if anaphylaxis occurs.
In controlled clinical trials, injection site reactions occurred more frequently in Rebif-treated patients than in placebo-treated and Avonex-treated patients. Injection site reactions including injection site pain, erythema, edema, cellulitis, abscess, and necrosis have been reported in the postmarketing setting. Do not administer Rebif into affected area until fully healed; if multiple lesions occur, discontinue Rebif until skin lesions are healed.
Decreased peripheral blood counts in all cell lines, including pancytopenia, have been reported in Rebif-treated patients. In controlled clinical trials, leukopenia occurred at a higher frequency in Rebif-treated patients than in placebo and Avonex-treated patients. Thrombocytopenia and anemia occurred more frequently in 44 mcg Rebif-treated patients than in placebo-treated patients. Patients should be monitored for symptoms or signs of decreased blood counts. Monitoring of complete blood and differential white blood cell counts is also recommended.
Cases of thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA), some fatal, have been reported with interferon beta products, including Rebif, up to several weeks or years after starting therapy. Discontinue Rebif if clinical symptoms and laboratory findings consistent with TMA occur, and manage as clinically indicated.
Caution should be exercised when administering Rebif to patients with pre-existing seizure disorders. Seizures have been temporally associated with the use of beta interferons, including Rebif, in clinical trials and in postmarketing reports.
The most common side effects with Rebif are injection-site disorders, headaches, influenza-like symptoms, abdominal pain, depression, elevated liver enzymes, and hematologic abnormalities.
There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. Rebif should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.
Rebif full prescribing information is available at http://www.emdserono.com/ms.country.us/en/images/Rebif_PI_tcm115_140051.pdf?Version=
About Cladribine Tablets
Cladribine Tablets is an investigational short-course oral therapy that is thought to selectively and periodically targets lymphocytes thought to be integral to the pathological process of relapsing MS (RMS). Cladribine Tablets is currently under clinical investigation and not yet approved for the treatment for any use in the United States. In August 2017, the European Commission (EC) granted marketing authorization for Cladribine Tablets, marketed as MAVENCLAD® in the European Union (EU), for the treatment of relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (RMS) in the 28 countries of the EU in addition to Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. In December 2017, Health Canada approved MAVENCLAD for the treatment of relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS).
The clinical development program for Cladribine Tablets includes:
About Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, inflammatory condition of the central nervous system and is the most common, non-traumatic, disabling neurological disease in young adults. It is estimated that approximately 2.3 million people have MS worldwide. While symptoms can vary, the most common symptoms of MS include blurred vision, numbness or tingling in the limbs and problems with strength and coordination. The relapsing forms of MS are the most common.
About EMD Serono, Inc.
EMD Serono is the biopharmaceutical business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, in the U.S. and Canada - a leading science and technology company - focused exclusively on specialty care. For more than 40 years, the business has integrated cutting-edge science, innovative products and industry-leading patient support and access programs. EMD Serono has deep expertise in neurology, fertility and endocrinology, as well as a robust pipeline of potential therapies in oncology, immuno-oncology and immunology as R&D focus areas. Today, the business has 1,300 employees around the country with commercial, clinical and research operations based in the company's home state of Massachusetts. www.emdserono.com
About Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 50,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions. In 2016, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, generated sales of €15.0 billion in 66 countries.
Founded in 1668, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, is the world's oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, holds the global rights to the "Merck" name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma and EMD Performance Materials.
SOURCE EMD Serono